It is difficult to know where to begin to say shalom and l’hitraot to our dear friend Matt Cohen who is making Aliyah in January. Though we have known this created at: 2011-12-28dedicated “Otzma-nik” for less than two years, we have come to love him both for the mentch he is as well as for the invaluable volunteer service he has done on behalf of CJP’s Boston-Haifa Connection.

We first heard of Matt when he was in Otzma blogging about his experiences for Vered and the Haifa office staff.  When he returned to Boston, as a member of the Boston-Haifa Young Leaders Committee, he jumped right into the crucial role of writing and editing pieces relevant to the Boston-Haifa Connection for  His full-time position with the David Project never deterred him from his volunteer role.  Hundreds have read these outstanding blogs.

But the best thing about Matt is the pleasant way he responded positively to every single request we ever made of him.  “Hineni”—“I am here for you”—was always his unconditional response.  Matt is the ultimate Otzma/Israel/Zionist success story—he is a young, talented, dedicated and courageous American Zionist making Aliyah—our profound loss is Israel’s huge gain.  And that makes us very happy, but like all Jewish phenomena, a bit sad as well.  But it also gives us one more great reason to visit Israel!

A part of Matt will always be in Boston, in Haifa and now in Jerusalem.   On behalf of all of us at CJP who have had the pleasure of befriending Matt, we offer the following blessing:

Our blessing for Matt is that he flourishes personally in the State of Israel, that he continues to make important contributions to its welfare and that he succeeds in integrating into a society that is still magical and of immense historical significance—not just for the Jewish people but for the world.  In the words of Rabbi David Hartman of the Shalom Hartman Institute, concerning the significance of Aliyah in our times:

“Aliyah is a call to the individual to arise, to assume a dramatic role in history, to participate in nation-building. I have come to understand from my own experience that this aspiration is both a catalyst for change and an important counterweight to the feelings of futility and despair that can undermine serious attempts at affecting change. The rhetoric of hope and the belief in future possibilities is essential for sustaining the vitality of a broader perception of what human life can be.